Thomas Barnfield was born in England in 1842 and migrated with his father to Victoria as a small boy. He fossicked around the goldfields of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, gaining valuable experience that enabled him to launch a successful career in mining. After success with the Bakers Creek Mine at Hillgrove, NSW, he went on to float the Eleanora Mine, also in NSW. As a promoter and investor he was seen as a moving spirit in mining development, and he became a member of several boards.
Barnfield also had some success with racehorses and in 1882 his horse, Assyrian, won the Melbourne Cup. He was a councillor with the Adelaide City Council from 1898 to 1900.
Barnfield had a single-storey bay-windowed villa built in 1878-79. He lived there for 10 years then sold it to John Langdon Bonython in 1889. The family has owned the house ever since.
The Bonythons owned several large properties, including Carminow and Carclew, but their longest association has been with this house, which they named Carhayes.
Sir John and his family lived in Carhayes until 1908. They then moved to Carclew on Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide. Carhayes was transferred to the eldest son, John Lavington, in 1909, and he lived there with his second wife until 1928. They moved to St Corantyn on East Terrace, where Lady Bonython lived until 1962 (Sir Lavington died in 1960).
Like his father, John Lavington started his career in journalism. However his main career, spanning more than 50 years, was in civic affairs. He became the city’s youngest mayor and was involved in many worthy causes and organisations, including the foundation board of the South Australian Housing Trust from 1937 to 1960.
Carhayes was twice extended during the early years of the Bonythons’ occupancy, in 1891-92 and 1896-97. Alarge drawing room and dining room to the east, and a two-storey section at the rear containing kitchen facilities and servants’ accommodation, were added. The brick and stone extensions were in sympathy with the original bluestone section, and the whole house presents as a large villa, one of several substantial 19th-century residences in the area.